"Hire a Tutor for Professional Services"
University of Wyoming 2009-2010 Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity Tutor Goals and Responsibilities 3 The Role of a Tutor Professionalism The Goals of Tutoring How to be an Effective Tutor 3 The First Session Assessment Develop a Study Plan and Schedule Leading a Tutoring Session Common Reasons Why Students are Having Difficulty Help Students to Access Campus Resources Do’s and Don’ts 9 Do’s Don’ts Best Practices 11 Professional Behavior Tutor-Student Relationship A Summary of Key Approaches 12 Identify Student Issues Work-Balance Ratio Referring Students to the Instructor Mini-Exercises Interviewing Students Tutoring in Writing Tutoring in Math Guide to Campus Resources 14 Please note that LeaRN does NOT hire tutors. Tutors are hired by other campus entities. LeaRN will offer tutor workshops/seminars/lectures and CRLA certification. April Heaney ● Program director firstname.lastname@example.org ● 766-3448 Jessica Willford ● Program Coordinator email@example.com ● 766-4322 LeaRN is located on the 2nd Floor of ILLC The goals and responsibilities of tutors center on helping students to become confident, independent learners through mastery of course materials and study skills. Tutoring services are intended to increase student learning and understanding of course material while helping them to become independent learners. Tutors are expected to provide consistent, professional services that assist students to achieve their academic goals. The Role of a Tutor Assist students with subject matter including clarification of class information and assignments. Assist students in developing study skills and strategies including those that may be specific to a particular course and those that can be used to achieve academic success in other courses. Assist the student to become a confident, independent learner. Students are dependent on you, in part, for their academic success and you are expected to develop a rapport in order to help them. However, you must always be aware of your professional standing and the goals of tutoring. You are not their professor, their academic advisor, a counselor, a friend, the person in whom they confide personal information, or a potential romantic partner. Professionalism Tutors perform their work independently and without a supervisor present. Because you work in an autonomous setting, it is especially important that you maintain professional standards of behavior including: Punctuality- always be at the designated meeting place a few minutes early. You should not be arriving at the moment you are to begin work or seem rushed or distracted when beginning a session. Attentiveness- arrive ready to give the student your full attention. Do not allow sessions to digress into conversation about topics unrelated to tutoring. Agenda- tutoring time and sessions are limited. Spend the first minute or two of each session determining the student’s needs and do your best to plan a session agenda that addresses them within a limited time frame. Dress- wear clothing appropriate to an academic setting and your professional standing. Smokers should be aware that cigarette smoke is an irritant to many people and refrain from smoking before a tutoring session. Strong perfumes or cologne are also a distraction or irritant for many people and should be avoided. Credibility- don’t be afraid to tell a student that you don’t know the answer to a question and never tutor above your level. If you find that you have been assigned a student or course that is above your current knowledge and skill level, let your supervisor know immediately. Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity The Goals of Tutoring Reinforcing/teaching key concepts: Students who do not fully grasp key concepts as explained by their professors can quickly fall behind in a course. Tutors may need to repeat or reinforce material associated with understanding key concepts and do so at the student’s pace. A tutor may need to identify these gaps in student knowledge if the student is not aware of them. Teaching new material: Tutors may need to teach students new material not covered in a class especially if the student is responsible for learning and understanding information not covered in lecture. Teaching study skills: The ultimate objective of tutoring is to make the student independent of you and your assistance. The teaching and reinforcement of organizational and time management skills, study skills, and study strategies will allow students to develop habits that can translate into academic success in other courses. Modeling the behavior and habits of a good student: Tutors should always model the behavior of a good student. These behaviors include arriving to a session on time, having materials organized and readily available, listening and taking notes, using textbooks in an effective manner, accessing outside resources when necessary, and employing different learning and teaching strategies for different types of course material. For the student, being tutored in an effective manner should be a learning experience. Building a positive attitude toward learning and higher education: Tutors should convey, and instill in their students, a positive attitude toward learning and the opportunities associated with earning a postsecondary degree. Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity In addition to having subject specific knowledge in an academic area, effective tutors encourage students to discuss and identify their concerns, assess students’ needs on an ongoing basis, and implement a plan of action to address deficiencies in knowledge and skills. Both new tutors and experienced tutors can benefit from employing a standard protocol for planning and implementing a tutoring session. Tutors should pay particular attention to establishing a rapport with students with whom they are meeting for the first time. The First Session Get acquainted by exchanging names and contact information. Both students and tutors should exchange at least one phone number as well as an e-mail address so that you can reach each other if either needs to cancel or change an appointment. You will also need the student’s course being tutored in order to fill out your timesheet. Ensure that the student understands time limitations for tutoring each week and exchange information on when you are both available to meet. Discuss the student’s needs including his/her history with the course being tutored. The student may be repeating the course, taking it as part of a university requirement, taking it as a prerequisite to another course, etc. The student may have requested a tutor because he/she is anticipating having difficulty with a course or the student may have requested a tutor only after doing poorly on an exam. Leave at least a half hour for tutoring during the first session even if you need to continue discussion on assessment and other topics in the second session. Always finish a session on a positive and encouraging note. This is a great way to begin and proceed with the session as well. Students will often depend on their tutor to gauge the success of the session and their improvement, so be sure to give them incentive to continue working toward their goals. Assessment Talk to the student about learning and grade goals for the course and about goals for tutoring sessions. Although students may not be able to fully articulate their goals for tutoring sessions, you can help them to understand what tutoring is and is not and set mutual goals that can be accomplished in an hour or two per week. Some type of assessment should take place at every session although you will need to be more comprehensive in the initial sessions. Questions you can ask: “What do you feel confident about?” “Which concepts/chapters/material do you understand?” ”What is your biggest concern about this class?” ”What would you like to focus on?” ”What can we work on today that will help you to feel less anxious about the class?” ”Is there a particular assignment you need to complete before our next meeting?” Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity Practice good communication skills. Listen to what the student is saying, don’t interrupt them while they are talking about their difficulties with a class, reflect back or paraphrase what they are telling you, and use positive language (e.g., “It will help that you’ve had this professor before,” “This textbook has good practice questions,” “We’ll develop a simple note-taking system that’s easy for you to use,” etc.). Some students will not be able to articulate their concerns and, in some cases, students may feel especially anxious about the class and not want to talk about everything they anticipate will go wrong. Do your best to get the information you need to help them, but also ensure that you accomplish something during the first session that is tangible for the student. Spend some time evaluating the student’s study strategies. Look at the student’s notes, their textbook, past exams and assignments, etc. Talk about how they study for the course and which of the student’s current study habits is effective or ineffective. This is a good time to ensure that the student understands your role as a tutor including the ways in which you can help them to achieve goals and the ways in which you are limited, although focusing on what you can do should take precedence. Develop a Study Plan and Schedule For each student for each course, develop a study plan and a schedule. List each of the following. 1. Larger goal: e.g., get a B or higher on an exam. 2. Sub-goals: e.g., study a certain number of hours per week, learn the material in a particular chapter, develop a system for taking notes, attend review sessions with professor, etc. 3. Schedule: Have the student write out a weekly study and tutoring schedule. Schedule dates for completion of sub-goals. Check the study plan and schedule each week to see what was accomplished. If goals and timelines are not met, ask the student what can be done to meet goals. 4. Let the student know that having a written plan, following the plan, and assessing accomplishments each week is a proven method for organizing time and meeting goals. Leading a Tutoring Session For each session, consider what the student already knows and what the student needs to learn. Everyone learns “in context,” so lead the session by making reference to what the student knows and understands when introducing new concepts and material. Move from broader contexts to details in order to teach information within a current framework of knowledge. Briefly review a verbal or written agenda for the session (refer to the study plan and schedule when needed) before jumping in. Students will be able to better recognize their own progress and accomplishments when goals are explicitly stated or restated. Check frequently for learning. Have the student paraphrase information for you or apply information to a new problem. You should know well before a session ends whether the techniques you are using are working. Provide positive feedback throughout the session and take time at the end of the session to provide a summary of the session in terms of things learned, goals accomplished, future plans, etc. Give the student “homework.” Reinforce that the student is working toward becoming an independent learner by giving them work to accomplish on their own between tutoring sessions. Refer back to a weekly study plan when needed. Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity Common Reasons Why Students are Having Difficulty There may be a variety of reasons why a student is having difficulty with a subject. The following is a list of problems/deficiencies to watch for. Basic Skills needed for the course may be deficient in the student. When this occurs, it is necessary to divide the tutoring time between helping with current material and building the proper foundation needed to be successful in the course. Time Management is a problem with many students. School is only one part of their busy lives. Many students are balancing their time between many obligations. If this is the case, it may be helpful to work out a time sheet with your student. Explain the importance of having a particular place, days, and times to study. The chart will help make this visual to the student. Personal Problems can be highly distracting for the student. While it is important for the tutor to be understanding, you are not a counselor. If the student is having difficulties focusing, the tutor may want to refer the student to the Tutor Coordinator or SSS/McNair Project Advisor for assistance. This way the tutor has helped the student with the situation without becoming a counselor. The job of the tutor is to keep the student on task. Do not give personal advice to any student. Motivational Problems are easy to pinpoint in a student, and caused by several reasons: Students may lack preparation or have poor attitudes. Some students may not want to be in school. Some may be enrolled for the wrong reasons, or actually want to attend a different school. Students sometimes resent being placed in the developmental or general education courses that are necessary for the chosen degree. The student may not like the instructor. Some students may want the education, but do not want to do the work required to be successful. Be aware: some students will find any excuse to not try in their classes for fear of failure. If they do not try, then the failure is not due to lack of ability. Other students may just be unmotivated. These are students who generally lack focus and are not goal oriented. In these cases the students need to be referred to the Tutor Coordinator or Project Advisor. Self-Confidence can be lacking in students with low self-esteem. This is especially true if the student has a poor academic history or is in need of repeating a course. When this is the case, students need to be reassured that they are not stupid or inferior. Point out areas where they are doing well. Receiving sincere praise and compliments help raise student’s confidence. Test Anxiety is a major problem for many students. Unfortunately, this has become an excuse for many students who find when looking at the test that they are unprepared. A student who is not properly prepared may be come nervous, confused, forgetful or ill. His/her mind might just “go blank.” While test anxiety does exist, it is usually attributable to whether or not the student was properly prepared to take the test. Some students may be spending enough time studying, but they may not be using good study methods. The most important thing to remember when tutoring students is not to take for granted they understand the material that was just covered. They did not understand before; they still may not understand. Asking a student if they understand may bring a “yes” that they do not mean. Many times students may pretend to understand when they do not just to avoid embarrassment. Question the students about the material. Have them explain the lesson. Do not move on until the students have proven their knowledge. Work at a pace that allows the students to have time to reflect. Having the students re-explain information/problems will help to keep them from becoming anxious. Remember to always finish a tutoring session with positive and encouraging words. Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity Help Students to Access Campus Resources Make sure that students are aware of academic resources on campus and check to see if they are accessing them when needed. • The LeaRN website: www.uwyo.edu/BetterGrades lists the many departmental tutoring services and Supplemental Instruction including times and locations that are available to UW students. It also provides study skills and other academic resources. • Student Learning Center: Free drop-in tutoring for all UW students. Open Sunday from 6-9 pm and Mon-Thu from 6-10 pm. Located in the Lower Level of Washakie Center. A tutor in Math/Science is available during all regularly scheduled hours and a tutor in English/Writing is available from 6-9 pm on Sundays and 6:30-9:30 pm Mondays through Thursdays. The SLC is closed during UW breaks and during Summer Session. Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity The following “Do’s and Don’ts” include how to handle situations that may occur in a tutoring setting and take-home messages for effective tutoring. “DOs” Read your Tutoring Guide in full. It lists policies and expectations that are not covered verbally in all trainings and orientations. When accepting a tutoring assignment, make sure that you receive full contact information, the course for which they’re requesting tutoring, and any limitations on allowable hours. Contact the student by both phone and e-mail by the end of the next day and, preferably, in the same day you accept an assignment. Ensure that in your initial meeting with the student you get the course and section you’re tutoring. Arrive to the session a few minutes before you are scheduled to meet. Tutors should never be late for a session. Remember that you are helping each student to become an independent learner, not someone who is dependent on a tutor for their academic success. Limit tutoring sessions to what is genuinely necessary and don’t do the work for them. Make the student comfortable with you and with the tutoring situation. If the student is shy or is unsure of what the tutoring session should entail, it is your job to define your job and the nature of your relationship within a professional framework. Model the behavior of a good student. Arrive prepared, take notes, arrive on time, indicate an enthusiasm for the subject area, and indicate an enthusiasm for learning and academic achievement. Practice patience at all times. If a student is working to understand a difficult concept, having trouble understanding and using an equation, etc., they should be able to depend on your patience in tutoring them. If students are not working toward learning goals and arrive unprepared, you will need to indicate what you expect of them between tutoring sessions in terms of “homework” and preparedness. “DON’Ts” Don’t tutor in a non-public place and keep in mind that an on-campus venue is preferred. If you feel pressured to do so, please contact your supervisor. Don’t become a “homework-only” tutor. Although a part of your job is likely to entail helping students complete homework assignments, this is not the sum of your job. Students should be working independently to complete homework after the first few items and should not come to a session with the idea that completing homework is the only goal of each session (see Developing a Study Plan and Schedule in Chapter 3). Don’t allow students to determine how they use your time and skills if you feel that you are working outside your capacity as a tutor and/or counter to the goals of tutoring. Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity Don’t tutor hours outside the student’s needs. Don’t try to tutor beyond your level. If you find that you are unable to help a student in a reliable and timely fashion, let the student and your supervisor know that you are requesting that the student be reassigned. Help your office by giving them an idea of that student’s needs so that they can make the new assignment. Don’t try to advise the student outside your tutoring responsibilities. Giving them advice that should come from an academic advisor or personal counselor can be especially harmful. Refer the student to their counselor in their sponsoring program. Each of these people is qualified to refer the student to the proper university office or service for assistance. Don’t answer your cell phone or text anyone during a tutoring session! Your student should have 100% of your attention. Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity Professional Behavior 1. Tutors are accepting a paraprofessional position where they may be providing critical educational services which have long-lasting and significant effects. Approach preparation for sessions, attitude toward the students, and delivery of services with this in mind at all times. 2. Confidential information about students can only be discussed with your direct supervisor. Furthermore, such information should be discussed only for professional reasons directly tied to the welfare of the students. Confidential information includes items such as (a) case history, (b) current problems, (c) names and grades. Breach of confidence is a serious professional error with ethical and legal implications. Tutor-Student Relationship 1. The dignity and respect of the students you work with should be foremost in your position as a tutor. Tutors will not allow religion, race, gender, or other factors to affect their judgment or ability to work with students. Tutors are accountable for assisting qualified students in a timely, thorough, and respectful manner. 2. It is illegal to engage in sexually harassing behavior of any kind and at any level. 3. Tutor only on the campus or in other public places. Tutors may not make an exception to this policy both for the tutor’s own safety and the safety of the tutee. 4. Tutors may not accept a tutoring assignment to work with a student with whom they have a personal relationship (including a platonic, social relationship). 5. Tutors will foster student independence in learning and problem solving skills and will work to keep students from becoming dependent upon their help. 6. If tutors need to cancel an appointment because of an emergency (i.e., illness), they will contact the student both by phone an e-mail at the earliest possible moment. Adapted from the Academic Service Program, Student Educational Opportunity Identify student issues first Ask the student about specific issues the student would like help with. Jot these down to remind you both. Be sure you understand the student’s issues with as much detail as possible. Keep the work-balance ratio in mind at all times: 20% tutor work, 80% student work Keep in mind that students learn nothing when you do work for them (even if it seems they understand what you’re doing at the moment—think about how much you learn or remember when someone teaches you something on your computer by doing it themselves.) Students can put high pressure on tutors to do work or edit work for them. Resist this pressure; remind students that they won’t get anywhere in future assignments or exams if they don’t learn new skills or improve their skills. It’s a good idea to tell students at the beginning of an appointment that you will aim for 80% of time with the pen or pencil in their hands and the thinking in their court. Don’t hesitate to tell students to go to their instructor for help on issues you don’t feel comfortable addressing. It’s much better to send students to the instructor than to try to wing it if you aren’t sure about the appropriate approach. Give students mini-exercises before they come again. If a student is visiting you regularly, it’s a good idea to ask them to do specific tasks before they meet with you again. (Bring in a draft that you’ve marked up with your own edits, focusing on x,y,z. Work through these problems before our next meeting and bring your questions. Do the reading and underline the key ideas or arguments you see…) Don’t hesitate to interview students about their process. If you suspect that students are encountering difficulties because of their reading habits, study or homework habits, time management, etc., ask students if you can ask them a few questions about their process. What does the student need to concentrate or work well outside of class? When does the student study or read? Where? Do they have cell phone or internet on when they’re working or reading? What is their class attendance like? Ask the student to think through some changes they could make to improve the process, and ask them to consider writing down their ideas. For more tips on success strategies, or to locate more specific subject-help offered by departments, visit www.uwyo.edu/BetterGrades When students bring writing in for review, Avoid writing on the student’s work: keep the paper in front of them at all times. Make sure the pen/pencil is in their hand. (It’s OK for you to jot your own notes on a separate sheet.) Consider asking the student to read the paper (or portions of the paper they’re concerned about) out loud. Students will “hear” many things they don’t see when they solely read their work on the page. Ask them to pause after paragraphs to talk about issues they notice (first), and then issues you notice. A general rule of thumb is to focus on bigger issues (students’ ideas, organization, thesis and support, incorporation of sources, etc.) before moving to grammar and punctuation. Students will often want grammar and punctuation work first! Ask if they’d like to look at any larger-scale issues beforehand. When looking at grammar and punctuation, point out the first three or four instances of an error, and then ask the student to attempt to pick out the error for the next passages of text. If you suspect unintentional plagiarism, ask the student about use of sources and source material and help them understand the importance of careful citing. If you suspect intentional, large-scale plagiarism, tell the student you’d be more comfortable if they checked the paper with their instructor before you review it with them. Be familiar with University regulations on plagiarism. When students bring math or other problem-based questions: Recognize that students often suffer from anxiety and low confidence in these areas. Help when you can to bolster their belief that they have the ability to understand the material and succeed. If possible, get to know students’ interests and attempt to create problem scenarios using their hobbies or interests (think about this in terms of football: if the quarterback is only 75% successful at catching the ball…) Ask students to talk out loud as they work through problems. Let them wrestle with bumps without letting their frustration reach boiling. When possible, ask questions rather than providing the “answer” or next step. 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